The first one is body posture:
A rower needs to have posture to row on an efficient an powerful way. That posture means that the rower will have enough strength on his body, lower back to seat up, rotate his hips and compress at the catch and seat there to place the blade, connect to the water and start his leg drive when the blade is loaded and not before. Having that posture and hip rotation will let the rower to load his body weight and get suspended trough the drive. Without posture, strength and rotation of hips we cannot load our body weight correctly. The better hip rotation and ankle flexibility the rower has, the higher and more vertical we can place our footstretchers and the more horizontal and direct the push will be.
The second one is Momentum management:
The rowing system has the mass of the boat with oars and the mass of the rower. Both masses are on the same system but move against each other generating momentums. We know that efficient rowing is the one that loses the less speed on the recovery because of good use of momentums and free speed. There is two ways to accelerate the boat and one is with the blade work and the other one with the use of momentums of our body mass against the boat. Learning to coordinate the right way both masses together to get the maximum of them with the blade work is key to efficient rowing.
The 3rd one is Length of stroke:
The length of efficient blade work is key to fast rowing. Rowing long at the catch with good posture and direct is the way to row well. The blade work at the angles of the catch is where is the most efficient and the majority on rowers don’t use that part. Developing strength, posture and teaching them to reach longer on a stroke position increases the boat speed by a lot. The work generated by the blade connected to the water every stroke is done on Joules x stroke and is the area inside the power curve. The base of this power curve is the length of the stroke and the height the force. So to generate good work every stroke we need to row long and with good continuous force in front of the blade.
Many rowers that develop their rowing on the stationary ergometer don’t develop correctly these 3 parts. On the stationary ergometer you can generate a good split without a good posture, good hip rotation and rowing short. You also don’t learn properly to manage the use of momentums, because the erg is anchor to earth and doesn’t float or flow like a boat. The rowers that end up worst are the ones called anchors, that can move an erg but not a boat. The problem they have is that nobody told them that rowing the boat like the erg, with no form and no skill doesn’t make boats go fast.
For me developing a good rowing stroke all the time with good posture, hip rotation, length of stroke and managing the masses correctly is key to develop a good rower. All that done well generates a push of the boat and not a pull and generates good acceleration of the boat.
I believe rowers to be the best they can be need to row boats or dynamic rowing machines with the supervision of good coaching. It is a big disadvantage on the development of rowers to rank people by splits on stationary rowing machines without considering length of stroke, posture and hip rotation. Also it is a mistake to don’t be able to measure who can manage better the momentums, key factor to efficient and fast rowing on the water.